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Wrongful Termination in California

California is an “at-will employment” state, which means that any employment relationship can be ended without prior notice or warning by the employer or the employee at any time and for any reason.  There is no general requirement that an employer have “good cause” before firing an employee. Nor is the employee entitled to any warnings that the employee’s job is in danger before being fired.

Wrongful Termination Claims

Though this is the law in California there are many examples of wrong termination that are claimed and won. Most wrongful termination cases are brought under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). California has created a number of illegal reasons for termination. Some common claims include-

Contract Claims

When you have an employment contract that gives you continued employment for a specified amount of  time, or that provides limits to your employer’s case for firing you, your employer is legally bound to hold up their end of the deal. Simply- if your employer fires you for a violation of the terms of the contract, you should have a strong claim against that employer.

Discrimination Claims

Employers cannot fire you if you are in a protected class based on certain certain characteristics in California.  Some of these characteristics include national origin, color, race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, disability, age, citizenship status, genetic information, gender identity, marital status, medical condition, AIDS/HIV status, political beliefs or activities, military or veteran status, or as a victim of stalking, domestic violence, or assault. When you win a discrimination lawsuit, your employer will be forced to pay your lost benefits and  wages, as well as your court costs and attorneys’ fees and, emotional distress damages with possible punitive damages.

Retaliation Claims

Your employer cannot fire you for exercising, or trying to enforce your employment rights. If you were fired for exercising a right granted by law, or making a complaint, you may have a claim against your employer. If successful in your claim, you can collect not only lost benefits and wages, but also attorneys’ fees, for emotional distress and damages, as well as punitive damages.

Violation of Public Policy

You can not be fired when exercising your legal rights, like declining to commit an illegal act, or raising issues about workplace illegality. A public policy claim is quite different from a retaliation claim, as it does not need to be based on a specific statute, or any employment law.

Some examples are-

  • An employee is fired for lobbying lawmakers to opt out of vaccinations for her kids. She belongs go an organization that rejects the need for mandatory childhood vaccines.
  • An employee is fired when he refuses to lie to an IRS auditor in regards to the company’s finances.
  • An employee at a manufacturing company is fired for filing a complaint with the federal government, contending the company is illegally using aftermarket parts in its operations.


Working with a professional who understands the complexities associated with Employment Law improves the chances of you receiving your rightful compensation. Let the professionals at KJT LAW GROUP help. Call us at (818) 507-8525 or contact us for a free consultation. We will go over all the facts of your case and recommend the best ways to move forward.

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